Teeth Whitening Options – In Home or In Office

There are two basic kinds of teeth whitening that have been shown to produce consistent results; there are at-home procedures and in-office procedures. The at-home procedure usually involves a tray filled with a whitening chemical. Typically, this is a hydrogen peroxide solution that comes in different strengths. The alternate procedure is one done in the office. An in-office procedure involves applying a hydrogen peroxide solution and then activating it with a specific light. There are advantages to each approach.

Whitening Time

If you are looking to have your teeth whitened as quickly as possible, an in-office procedure is your best option. Typically, this takes about an hour to clean your teeth and then another to whiten them. With many procedures, your teeth can be several shades whiter in one session. An at-home procedure involving trays will take a few weeks. You’ll apply it for a few hours each day until your teeth are as white as you would like. So, the at-home procedure works much more slowly but you don’t have to be in the office for it.


Since the in-office procedure requires an appointment and a specific type of equipment, it could be more difficult to find the time. If you have a busy schedule or if your nearest dental office does not have the machine available, you might have to wait a very long time to get your appointment. Conversely, the tray can be picked up in a dental office or at a pharmacy. You can use it whenever you have time.


Some types of teeth whitening might be slightly uncomfortable for people who have sensitive teeth. For most people, the hydrogen peroxide is completely painless; however, for a few, it can irritate. Typically, a dentist can work with you to design a peroxide gel that is a lower concentration. This gel won’t work quite as quickly because it has less of the active ingredient, but it should be less irritating.

In summary, the choice of teeth whitening depends on how much time you have available and if you want to sit in a dentist’s chair for close to an hour. If you want something that will work as quickly as possible, you need to choose an in-office treatment. If you want something that you can do on your own time, you want the at-home treatment. When used under the direction of a dentist, either procedure will whiten your teeth.

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